Employer Case Study – University of Exeter Culture Team

“Professional Pathways gives you an insight into how industry works, what jobs are really like and the knowledge and skills you need to work in that sector.”

How would you suggest students can make the most of their 35 hour internship?

Firstly be prepared and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your supervisor. Building a good relationship pays dividends for both the student and the host organisation. Be open and happy to accept there are things you don’t know but want to find out about. The supervisor is there to help you get the most out of the internship so ask for any clarification you need to enable you to do a good job.

Consider carefully what it is you want to achieve in the internship; why did you apply to do it in the first place? When you have alighted on your reasoning communicate this to your supervisor – that way they can help you achieve that ambition. Are there specific skills you’d like to learn, or knowledge you want to accrue? It’s often useful to look at the long game plan of your career ambition – where do you want to be in a few years, what job would you like and what skills and expertise will you need to achieve that? Internships are brilliant opportunities to develop some of those skills that studying alone doesn’t allow you to acquire.

Be organised and plan your time realistically. Internships are opportunities for your development and should not become overwhelming. If you find that you are struggling to manage other work commitments and your internship, discuss it with your supervisor. The PATCH internships are usually over a 5 day period before Covid 2020 these 5 days were consecutive – this year things have been slightly different, which has made it less intense for supervisors and interns alike. Your supervisor will only provide you with work that fits comfortably into the timeframe available so if you start to spend too much time on things revisit your work plan, consider your progress and discuss any concerns with your supervisor.

Evaluate your progress – before, during and after the internship. What have you learnt? What went well? What did you miss doing? What would you do differently? How has the internship changed your approach to work/managing your time? Has it opened your eyes to different career opportunities? You can keep a journal to record your thoughts, aiding your reflections and providing something to refer back to in future months.

What advice would you give to a student considering applying for Professional Pathways?

Professional Pathways gives you an insight into how industry works, what jobs are really like and the knowledge and skills you need to work in that sector. It provides an opportunity to sample a sector that you might be interested in joining post-university, as well as creating material for your evolving CV. Competition for internships is high, so make sure you carefully consider which internship(s) to apply for. Look at internships that relate to your studies, experience or career aspirations. Spend time fine-tuning your application; point by point reference the skills and knowledge the host organisation is looking for. Be explicit in your answers and give concrete examples of where you have experience, skills and knowledge – don’t hide your light under a bushel.

And if you get your chosen internship this can be the start of a longer-term relationship with your supervisor, who can become a mentor and guide as you navigate your career. These internships provide an amazing opportunity for your development – don’t miss out!